San Bernardino County Sheriff SUVAfter six years, San Bernardino County is finally on its way to overhauling its antiquated public safety radio system, and will be getting a state-of-the-art digital system at a cost of more than $158 million.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday entered into agreements with Motorola Solutions and Aviat U.S. and authorized contract expenditures of $123.3 million to get the project off the ground.

The county has been trying to overhaul its radio system since 2007, but funds became squeezed after the collapse of the housing market in 2008 and stalled the project, county spokesman David Wert said.

For years, the county has used a vintage analog radio system. When repairs are needed, it has had to resort to trolling eBay in search for replacement parts, said Jennifer Hilber, chief information officer for the county’s Information Services Department.

The new Motorola Project 25 digital system will provide the county with stable and reliable digital communications, improved voice clarity and signal strength, and enhanced security features.

Sheriff John McMahon touted the system’s automatic roaming and GPS capabilities.

“The stability and reliability of this system is critical to us,” McMahon told the board on Tuesday. He said the P25 radio system is already being used by San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties, three of six counties comprising the Office of Emergency Services (OES) Region 6 area. The other counties are San Bernardino, Inyo and Mono.

Nearly every public safety agency within San Bernardino County pushed for the radio system’s overhaul, warning that a system crash was imminent.

“The bottom line is the system is going to fail. It’s not if, but when,” Hilber told the board.

The county’s Architecture and Engineering Department has already budgeted $59 million in start-up money for the project, and the county will set aside $20 million a year over the next five years to fully fund the project.


Photo Courtesy San Bernardino County Sheriff